You scribble out a short note as someone mentions perhaps summoning elves to handle this, which is thoughtfully countered by another instructor wondering if the castle elves are all present at the moment, it still isn't inside the official term dates yet. Conversation dickers back and forth over whether they probably-are or probably-aren't available to be summoned, and at no point does anyone actually move to summon them.
You almost wish they would, or that at least someone would cast air-freshening or cleaning spells. Or open a window. Though, considering it's one of those stately iron-barred and set in place thick and solid windows, opening this one would obligate destroying it. It could be repaired, of course, but this would probably not be the most immediately wise course of action.
Particularly not when you have other options.
"Exactly where is the infirmary?"
Snape offers a slight smile at the question, that a subtle glint in his eye casts as anything but friendly.
"Why... are you volunteering, then?" he drawls, voice coloring the word with a slightly unpleasant tone, and then offers a series of directions.
They seem arbitrary and at times circular and nonsensical, and picturing how he describes the twists and turns, the ascending and descending staircases, and how to take the third left and second right, then vice versa... yes, you have no doubt that it will lead you to the infirmary, but you also do not doubt that it is far from the swiftest route. Far indeed.
But then, it is hardly as though you intend to walk that distance.
Instead, you move the tip of your focus in a slow circle, before prodding the exact center with a sharp thrust, having not particularly considered in depth what movements might be best for this, but instead working slightly off of intuition. In the end, a great deal of magic considers symbolism as extremely relevant.
And so, symbolically creating a door and then knocking, in order to open it.... yes, somehow it seems to function more efficiently than before. With barely a sound or flicker, an aperture opens between the here of where you are and the 'there', of your target.
On the other side, what must be madame Pomphrey peers curiously through, only to tut at the mess on the floor.
"Oh my." Flitwick chirps, hopping up onto the table to get a closer look at the portal. You allow yourself a moment of insufferable smugness.
".... Fascinating." He mutters. "Of course. The swiftest way between two points is often held as being a straight line, but that isn't how apparation or floo travel work at all. Still, it only makes sense. Yes, just move both points so that they overlap. Excellent. I think I shan't ask whether you simply refrained from invoking the incantation in order to keep it to yourself, or if the development is simply incomplete, as it appears to be perfectly functional whether it is indeed complete or not."
Your smugness dies an immediate and frustrated death.
Still, it's not like you can complain. You demonstrated a magical working to a room filled with other competent practitioners of the arts, indeed, instructors and the next best thing to proper scholarly researchers and arcane investigators themselves. It would have been foolish to expect them not to immediately pick it apart to see how it worked, either to duplicate some portion of the theory behind it, or to set up preventative measures against it. This is just how the mind becomes wired, after enough time.
"Bypasses the wards against apparation. I have always pointed out that those particular sets of wards are needlessly specific." Snape snorts. "And, of course, was proven correct not long ago. I will say again: reworking that aspect to prevent all forms of magical travel would-"
"Pah. Ye'll never get the vote for it." McGonagall snorts. "I'll grant you, it's a bad state of things when a portkey can be tampered with in such a manner, but the best you'll get is to add them to the list of proscribed items, and between that and how tricky it is to get a legal one in the first place, there shouldn't be any trouble. And Severus, you hardly think anyone is going to be pleased about having their personal Floo shut down? People complain long enough for just regular maintenance, and that only lasts a day on the outside."
"Hm, you know, this would be terribly useful in the greenhouses." Sprout says, thoughtfully rubbing a lip. "There's a number of flora that simply don't last long outside of fairly specific conditions, and transporting them at all is-"
"Piffle, that's as simple as a pair of boxes and a variation on the switching spell." Flitwick chuckles. "... Though I should hope you aren't referring to greenhouse number-"
"Yes, yes. As it so happens, madame Umbridge here appears to have ingested something which very much does not agree with her." You interject loudly, other conversations politely dying down into softer tones around the room, and pass the message through. All the more pertinent details are included properly. "I hope that you can see to her proper care?"
"... Must be some kind of a record. The students haven't even arrived yet, and the Hostpital Wing is already being put to use."
Pomphrey sighs, then with a twitch and movement of her wand the Umbridge woman lifts off the ground and passes through the portal. Once clear, you close it off and... one of the less prominent instructors, you can't quite recall which one she is.... no, Burbage, that's correct, causes the remaining mess and smell to simply vanish into nothingness.
For a moment, you consider if you might be able to wrangle recompense for this... but no. It is, at times, difficult to tell exactly what will cause a Favor to become owed. It is hardly an exact science, and the same situation exactly, only involving different people, can and has provided different outcomes. In general, the only sure way to invoke one is by mutual agreement between two parties where, under a given set of conditions, a Favor would be owed in one way or another. But both sides of things must functionally understand the importance and implication of a Favor, and agree. There is, of course, some room for varying levels of coercion and deceit to potentially force or trick a victim into agreement... but, in the end, that is a questionable and uncertain subject indeed, requiring a soft touch and bearing no guarantees. Otherwise... sometimes, saving a life or offering willing and unrequested aid towards a purpose can, rarely, leave the other side owing a Favor. More commonly, however, it invokes a Debt. Which is of course another thing entirely. Indeed, frequently, this results in nothing whatsoever and leaves the good samaritan involved in the effort with nothing but potentially-meaningless gratitude.
In the end, a Favor is closer to a fae Bargain than anything else, though still not quite the same, not in the finer details.
Still. No matter. As idle chatter dies down, the negotiation begins in fullness. Everyone has their own special requests, little adjustments, they would like this or that, but in turn someone else wants that or the other, or possibly this one.
Much like yourself, everyone wants the best available time slots, but have a back-up possibility or two that they can easily bring themselves to accept.
Well, with some exceptions.
Astronomy, for example, could in theory be taught by casting accurate illusions inside at any time of day. In practice, however, it is always held at the top of a tower, in the dead of night, never mind the little brat's complaints about being tired in the morning. As such, there is little competition for astrology time-slots. Similarly, the flight instructor, madame Hooch, really only teaches first years, with some rare exceptions, and so she generally just picks a slot later in the year that would normally be called a free-study period. Neither really has any reason to be here, they don't outright admit but freely shrug to without complaint, beyond collecting gifts from the new Defense instructors.
Well, to be fair, you would show up like clockwork yourself if the situation were reversed. That's just obvious.
The main power structure between teaching staff seems to be the Gryffindor and Slytherin heads against each other. Mostly, to be fair, due to their intense personalities clashing against each other, each going out of their way to make sure that, first, their own position was as strongly supported as possible. But also that, second and nearly as important as the first, that their opposition was as crippled as they could manage, to the degree that they accept slight hits to their own position provided they are outweighed by greater blows to the other side.
The Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff heads display no shame whatsoever in taking advantage of this, and 'siding' with Snape, in Flitwick's case, or McGonagall, in Sprout's. With this team-up...
It's not really personal, it seems. There doesn't seem to be any of the honest hatred that would bring bared knives, quiet curses, or silent doses of slow poison to bear. It's just... automatic and ingrained malevolence of the sort that comes of two parties having been in a state of enmity for so long that, even with a deeper understanding of each other, and with no personal grudges, they cannot think of any other mode of behavior than that of an enemy.
It's the rest of the instructors that form the third, more neutral power bloc, headed by Burbage, as the most forward and sharp personality to head the united spear. Grubbly-Plank, being no more than a temporary substitute, holds little personal stake in the matter and so mostly stays out of the deliberation, alongside the astronomy and broom-riding instructors. You suppose you can't really guess at where the instructor she is filling in for would place himself in the scale, just yet.
Well, you have a number of options set before you, to tell the truth. Three distinct outlines are taking form, through the arguing and discussion. It just depends where you choose to throw your weight.
The first is to ignore the private power struggle between lion and serpent, and instead back the neutral bloc. Overall, it seems the most level-headed of the decisions. It gains you little in the way of gratitude, but it does not make you enemies either, and the slots for first and second year students are very good indeed. However, in turn, fourth, sixth, and seventh year slots occupy less enviable times, immediately before lunch or dinner. In the end, it is the even spread you intended, having one class per day.
The other two options are to back either the roaring lion or hissing serpent, rather than cautiously stay out of a conflict where you might find yourself bitten or maimed. Naturally, whichever option you side with will net you some reasonable good will from your allies, but of course comes with the cost of vexing the other side. You have no doubt that this will, at least to some degree, spoil relations in that regard.
In any case, both sides have their good and bad points even leaving that aside.
Backing McGonagall leaves you with the first and second years on the same day, but in relatively good positions, and sixth and seventh again but in poor ones. This aside, fifth year also holds a good time-slot, and you would have Tuesdays free, as a concession to taking multiple classes on the same day.
Snape, by contrast, includes three days of double classes, including a good slot and a poor one, and the next day not holding anything of particular note in the time slots. It seems a reasonably rational spread, with a period of intense work on your part, followed by a more sedate cool-down day, and then you have extended weekends off entirely for personal matters.
Naturally, if you side with either Snape or McGonagall, the other will be forced to accept more classes in less-preferential slots. And as far as exact times goes....
Hm. There are pros and cons to any of the three available choices. Making your own...
... it would be a hard sell, you think. And it may extend this discussion by... at minimum, another two hours or so. Everyone seems by this point that they would be, well, if not 'pleased by', then accepting of any of the given schedules, though they wildly vary in course times. You pay no particular mind to the specifics of other courses, of course, your own is the only one currently relevant beyond making concessions for support.
Though you do note a clear and marked avoidance of weekends. Or possibly an attempt to keep them free in case of situations arising that require class rescheduling? You note that the only times you've gotten on the weekends are poor ones, and possibly by design, to keep the good slots free for weekend emergency-classes.
It's possible that you might manage something brazen with the weekends, at that, if only because it frees up more official slots of time during the week to be squabbled over... hm, but would it be worth it? Certainly, if you were unfortunate in regards to your health, it is a greater risk, and yet also....
You do not have much time to consider the matter, of course. There are still quiet arguments and hashing out of exact details, but the state of your classes seem to have been more or less locked down on the options displayed on the schedules which have not been scrawled over so many times as to be entirely illegible, or crumpled up and cast aside, or burned.
[ ] Option A:
Noncommital Newbie. An even spread across the week, a fairly balanced option. You won't stand out much with this, speaking in a school-office politics sense, but you won't make enemies. Whether you will make any friends in the effort is a question that is less readily answered.
[ ] Option B:
Weekends off is fairly nice. But you'll have to deal with two sets of the youngest and most miserable whelps in a single day. As well as two sets of the elder, surly, and hormonally frustrated in the wake of puberty teen children, and in poor teaching slots too boot. This aside, is it wise to cross a man with an extensive understanding of and familiarity with poisonous substances?
[ ] Option C:
A three day weekend is even better, but compounded with three days of relative suffering. Your patience will no doubt be sorely tested through this, and you won't likely be winning friends in the face of McGonagall's quick temper. Not to mention that cultural opinion, for whatever stupid reason, seems to hold the Lions in higher esteem, and the house of Serpents are eyed with some distaste.
[ ] Option ?:
Thinking outside of the box may find you in possession of a brilliant masterstroke that solves everything neatly and at once. Alternatively, it may be discovered that reaching into an unknown will find you withdrawing a fistful of filth rather than buried gold, or even bitten for your efforts. Consider wisely. [Write-in?]